Dialogue Worksheet

Writing dialogue worksheet

Writing Journal Worksheet – Dialogue (PDF)

One area that writers most frequently ask me to help them with is writing dialogue. Specifically, I get asked how to write “realistic” dialogue. I agree that it’s important for dialogue to sound “natural”, so that the conversation doesn’t appear contrived and conveniently planted to please the plot.

But in my humble opinion, I don’t think “realism” is something you need to aim for in writing dialogue. “Real-life” conversations tend to be haphazard, fragmented, and… boring. Fictional dialogue always has a purpose to fulfil, and information to convey. The dialogues I admire most involve characters using words in clever and succinct ways that in fact more closely resemble an idealised conversation than a realistic one.

That being said, becoming a better listener of messy real-life conversations can make you a better writer of fictional ones. It can also make you a better person!

What are people really trying to say to you?

Use this worksheet to…

  1. Think back to a conversation you had recently and consider how well you listened to and understood the other person.
  2. Write out and study a short dialogue from a book or film.
  3. Write your own fictional conversation. You might like to use the speech bubbles to note down each character’s goals for the conversation
    1. What do they want the other person to do?
    2. What do they want to say?
    3. What do they want to hide?
    4. What are they unaware of (in their own or in the other character’s speech)?
  4. Separate the speakers of a conversation (by folding over one side of the worksheet) and study them separately.
    1. How easy is it to tell the voices apart?
    2. Who is in charge of the direction of the conversation?
    3. Is it possible to fill in the other side of the conversation?
    4. Are there any utterances that don’t convey any information?
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P.S. I also have a handy Dialogue Builder & Checklist you can use.

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